‘Boundaries’: Oh, good — another road trip with an eccentric dad

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Christopher Plummer and Vera Farmiga in “Boundaries.” | SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

Seems like only yesterday we were talking about “Kodachrome,” with Ed Harris and Jason Sudeikis as an estranged father and son who take a road trip that becomes an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Ah. It was two months ago.

I liked “Kodachrome.” I also liked “Nebraska,” with Bruce Dern and Will Forte as an estranged father and son who take a road trip that becomes an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Unlike “Kodachrome” and “Nebraska,” the road-trip movie “Boundaries” does not feature a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member as the adult child of the a—— old-timer, but it follows the same basic formula: a 40ish offspring, still dealing with rejection issues, has to spend a considerable amount of time with rapidly aging and possibly dying pops, who is more irascible and distant than ever.

Might there be a chance for a breakthrough and a thaw in the relationship before it’s too late?

Despite the excellent performances from Christopher Plummer and Vera Farmiga as the obligatory estranged oldster/adult offspring pairing, and some genuinely impactful dramatic developments, “Boundaries” is a bit too cute and clever for its own good.

And the ending is pure hokum.

The always likable Farmiga plays Laura, a struggling single mother in Seattle whose household is overrun by stray cats and dogs — because Laura is so fantastic she could never turn away a lost soul. That point is hammered home when some random dude spends the night at Laura’s and is horrified by all the creatures roaming around in her house.

What a jerk! Laura is the best, you jerk!

Laura’s son Henry (Lewis MacDougall) is a sensitive, artistic, misunderstood soul who likes to draw pictures of Laura’s boyfriends, naked. Um, OK.

Oh, and Laura works as a personal assistant for a wealthy and horrible person who treats Laura like trash and wants Laura to produce a white tiger for her daughter’s Sweet Sixteen birthday party. AND her younger sister JoJo (Kristen Schaal) is a wacky dog-walker who has yet to discover HER purpose in life.

Have we stacked the cards in Laura’s favor enough?

So, there’s your setup. Laura is a cool, animal-loving hippie chick mom, Henry is a smart and quirky outcast kid, JoJo is a lost soul — and just when things couldn’t get any more complicated, Laura gets a call from the assisted living facility that will no longer tolerate the hijinks of Laura’s eccentric and impossible and long-estranged father Jack (Christopher Plummer). She needs to pick him up, stat.

Turns out Jack is a serious dealer of weed. As in pot. As in, the marijuana. (Not that Laura realizes this.)

Jack cuts a deal with Laura. If she’ll drive him to a certain destination, at the end of the trip he’ll put up the cash for her son Henry to attend a private school that’s much better suited to Henry’s unique needs. (Again: Laura has no idea her dad intends to sell felony-level amounts of pot every step of the way. For someone so smart and savvy, she’s truly oblivious when it comes to pops.)

Along the way they encounter Laura’s ex-husband (Bobby Cannavale), a true jerk who has had zero contact with Henry through the years but somehow still has a spell on Laura, and a couple of old-time stoners played by Christopher Lloyd and Peter Fonda. (The detour to the Fonda character’s house includes a bizarre robbery subplot that has nothing to do with anything and seriously tries our patience.)

“Boundaries” veers from forced irreverence to cliched. (Can we put a moratorium on scenes of grown-up sisters and/or best friends performing a dance and lip-sync routine to a beloved pop hit from their junior high days?)

Plummer and Farmiga are great together. If only they’d been given material to suit their skills.


Sony Pictures Classics presents a film written and directed by Shana Feste. Rated R (for drug material, language, some sexual references and nude sketches). Running time: 104 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.

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